The 5 Best Sleeping Pads For Backpacking

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After a long day of backpacking through the woods, all you want to do is crawl into your tent and drift off to sleep. You’ve worked hard, after all. That’s why you need to find one of the best sleeping pads for backpacking to rest peacefully and get ready for your next day on the trails.

But how do you choose the best sleeping pad for your backpacking trip? First and foremost, you want to look for something that's lightweight. Unlike car camping where you can basically drag a giant mattress from your vehicle to the campsite, you have to carry everything in your bag when you're backpacking. If you plan on trekking deep into the wilderness and logging many miles in a day, every ounce counts.

Secondly, you want your sleeping pad to be compact. Space is limited and you don't want something that hogs up all the room in your pack.

Beyond that, it’s largely a matter of style and preference. Do you like the closed cell foam pads that you roll up and strap to your pack? Or do you prefer the inflatable kind that you can squeeze into a pocket? Will you be traveling with a partner who'll want to share the bed with you? There are tons of styles and options to choose from — take a look here at the best sleeping pads for backpacking.

1Most Affordable

Built with a cozy peaks-and-valleys design, this closed cell foam sleeping pad offers comfy high points and heat-trapping low points that keep you cozy and warm, without breaking the bank. The super tough cross-linked polyethylene is extremely durable, so you know you'll be comfortable even if you're sleeping on piles of rocks and stones. This pad also won't puncture like some inflatable types are prone to do. If you're heading into rugged terrain where you'll be sleeping on bumpy ground, this is a great option. The only drawback is that it's bulkier than the inflatable styles and must be strapped outside your backpack rather than dropped inside in a stuff sack.

2Most Lightweight

If you're someone who hates having extra weight in your pack and wants your bag to be as light as physically possible, this ultra-lightweight sleeping pad is the best you can find. It weighs only 6.1 ounces and has a special body mapping design that offers cushioning where it's needed, while removing it from where it isn't. It packs down into a 5-inch stuff sack and features patent-pending Loft Pocket technology that shapes the chambers to make your sleeping bag perform optimally, which keeps you extra warm and cozy. This choice is hands down the lightest and breeziest pad in its price range.

3Best Self-Inflating

No more huffing and puffing while you go blue in the face trying to blow up your sleeping pad. This self-inflating mattress requires no effort — just open it up and it inflates for you. The 500 series pneumatic valve is easy to twist and the 75D polyester outer shell is strong and sturdy. Plus, it offers 1.5 inches of thickness that keeps you off the ground and blissfully unaware of any rocks, branches, or dirt that lies beneath you. At 32 ounces, it's slightly heavier than some other options on this list, but it's an amazing value.

Note: If you're looking for a high-end self-inflating pad with more bells and whistles, try this one.

4Best For Two People

If you're camping with a partner, this awesome two-person backpacking mattress is constructed with extra strong thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that's soft and comfy while still being puncture-resistant. It has a two-way Boston valve and patented stabilizer system that allows one person to toss and turn without interfering with the other's rest. It's the same size as a queen bed, which means if you ever use it for car camping or sleeping in the yard, you can bring your sheets from home. At 6 pounds, this is a slightly heavier option, but the affordability makes up for it. If you want an even lighter, more high-grade option, try this one.

5Best Investment

If getting a good night's sleep is important to you and you're willing to pay extra to get it, this investment-worthy air mattress is like a miniature bed in the woods. Available in small, medium, and large sizes, the comfy pad folds down compact and weighs just 12 ounces. That said, its feather-light profile doesn't make it any less soft and comfortable. It has special reflective ThermaCapture technology to trap heat while its baffled construction offers supreme stability. As a bonus, the pad is built with a no-slip fabric on the bottom, so you won't be sliding all over your tent in the middle of the night.

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